I spent the early May Bank Holiday in the Peak District with some friends. Their plan was to spend 3 nights camping at Edale, Hathersage and Grindlow, walking with their gear on the days inbetween, and then heading back to Edale to collect the cars on the final day. I thought I’d do it by bike, meeting them in the evening. A little antisocial, perhaps, but I’m keen to get some miles in, with a few bigger rides coming up, and to test the gear setup.
I didn’t really have ideas on bikeable routes and only managed to pick up a map a few days before, but got a copy of the Peak District Dark Peak Trails Mountain Biking book which is excellent and pieced together a couple of days of routes from different sections of the book.
We camped the night in Edale at the Fieldhead Campsite which is attached to the Moorland Information Centre. A handy place with good facilities, if a little ‘organised’. We left our cars in a local farmer’s field for the weekend for a nominal fee and headed off the next morning.
I rode east from Edale along the road, until I picked up a bridleway heading uphill to the north east. Some steep riding up, a dip down to ford a stream, followed by more up to Hope Cross. I met a local mountain biker up there with his dog who pointed out ‘The Beast’ descent straight ahead. I thankfully turned left along another bridleway (Roman Road) heading north, and eventually descending down to the A57 Snake Pass.
Looking back up. Although it looks smooth there, it was all very rocky further up – one rider who passed me on the way down took a spill a bit further on. Apparently this section is called Potato Alley…
I crossed the A57 and took a track up again, over the next hill and down a steep rocky bridleway to pop out by the little inlet on the west side of Derwent Water for a nice beach lunch.
Heading south again on the road, I crossed over the dam, continued south and then picked up a bridleway heading up (on flagstones initially!) towards Derwent Edge. I did start to manhandle the bike up off the bridleway that traverses below the Edge towards the top of the ridge but then decided it wasn’t worth the effort!
I headed south by road to Bamford and then bridleway to Hathersage in time to pick up some shorts (I’d managed to put a huge hole in the back of mine) and grab some coffee and cake, before heading back up the hill the few miles out to the North Lees Campsite, which was busy but a lovely place in the woods.
I’d beaten all the walkers to the campsite that night. It seems that their day may have been a little harder than they had anticipated – there were a few sad faces. We ate curry and drank beer in Hathersage that night to recuperate.
Here I picked up the Hope Valley Watershed route. Down into Brough and then along to Hope. Northeast up a steep hill to Aston before swinging northwest, skirting the edge of Win Hill, up onto Hope Brink (this section felt hard going), eventually leading to Hope Cross (again!).
I followed my route up from Edale the previous day in reverse, and ended up having a little bite to eat and refilling my water back in the Fieldhead campsite. Then crossed the road and headed up a bridleway towards Hollins Cross, to the south of Edale.
Then down a rocky quarry road and a choice of two descents – Cave Dale, which the book says needs full on trials skills (no chance) or Pin Dale, which was still pretty steep, rocky and sketchy.
At the bottom a twisty woodland bridleway popped me right out into the belly of the quarry works I could see from Mam Tor. All very surreal.
Here I peeled off and headed south through Great Hucklow to Grindlow to the campsite. Was pretty weary, very sweaty and not happy that there was no shower! But food in the amazing pub in Foolow made up for that. As did the Shetland ponies at the campsite…
We were all feeling a little worried about getting back to London before the Bank Holiday rush and a few of the walkers were suffering with blisters after a couple of 16 mile days. So rather than riding back to Edale the following day, I skirted along east towards Hathersage for lunch and then caught the 15 min train to Edale. This was a pretty ride although being back on the roads with cars really wasn’t!
There are some more photos here.
Anyway, these days felt pretty good, the weather was great, but I covered much less distance than I had thought at the time – perhaps 20-25 miles per day – although to be fair, the days were not particularly long, setting off around 10 in the morning, stopping quite a bit and being in camp by 5 or 6pm.
It does make me question quite how much distance I can really get done on the Welsh Ride Thing, which starts tomorrow…! I’m just about to head off to Wales with a friend for three days and two nights of riding a rather random route & sleeping in a bivvy bag.
And guess what?